Our June Cooking Club theme was an evening focused on the cuisine of Singapore. Singapore’s food culture is a reflection of their diverse culture of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and English. This evenings meal allowed us to explore their complex and flavorful cuisine.
One of the dishes highlighted this evening was a dessert prepared by our friends and cooking club members Robert and Heidi. They used black rice, to prepare this rich tasting rice pudding. The rice has a strong nutty flavor, and is traditionally eaten by itself, and not combined with fruits. However, the grilled pineapple served along side this black rice pudding provided a mildly sweet contrast to the natural nutty flavor of the rice.
Two methods could be used to prepare the rice. In this version the boiled method was used. To enhance the depth of flavor additional sugar and cardamom was added to the rice.
Black Sticky Rice Pudding
Recipe compliments of Robert and Heidi Butler
2 cups whole-grain black sticky rice, sweet rice or glutinous rice
2 cups, or 1 can, coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds and/or toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Mint leaves (optional)
Measure the rice into a bowl; run your fingers through the rice and check for any pebbles or other noticeable impurities. Rinse the rice a few times until the water clears. Cover with at least 2 inches of water and allow to soak 4 or more hours, or overnight. The grains will absorb water and grow in size.
When ready to cook, drain the rice and place in a heat-proof bowl with room enough for the rice grains to expand about a third more than its uncooked bulk. Add a small amount of boiling water, just enough to barely cover the rice grains. Place the bowl on a steamer rack and steam over medium heat about 30 to 40 minutes. If you do not have a steamer, use a large pot in which the bowl fits. Place trivet on the bottom along with 2-3 inches of water. bring to a boil. Balance the bowl with the rice on the trivet and add hot water to the rice. Cover and steam. Steaming the rice with a small volume of water will leave the top layer of grains intact, retaining a chewy texture which pops in your mouth like nuts. If you wish the rice to be softer, add more water to the rice.
While the rice is steaming, make the coconut sauce by heating the coconut milk, sugar, cardamom and salt together in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and blend the sauce until smooth. Keep warm.
When the rice is cooked and while still hot, add about half of the sauce or enough to throughly coat the rice. Stir and mix well. The rice should be wet but not swimming in sauce. Let stand 15-20 minutes to allow for flavorings to be absorbed. Reserve the remaining sauce for spooning over the rice before serving.
For a wetter pudding like texture, the rice may alternatively be cooked by boiling, the same way as you would regular rice. Use 2-1/2 to 3 cups water to each cup of rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook partially covered until the grains are cooked and surrounded by a thick sauce, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. Add sugar to sweeten to your liking. Stir well, cover and place on the lowest heat setting for another 5-10 minutes. Make the sauce less sweet but more salty for contrast with the already sweetened rice. When ready to serve, dish the rice into individual serving bowls. Serve warm or at room temperature.